Baltimore Sun staff members analyze the Ravens' loss to the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: Let there be no doubt now. The Ravens are officially in trouble. Their defense has far too many injuries and far too many players not playing up to their ability. Their offense is a total mess and has no rhythm whatsoever, thanks in part to an offensive line that is just getting overmatched on a weekly basis. And then there's Joe Flacco, who has become the team's biggest concern. The Ravens may well back their way into the playoffs, but today, they proved that it is going to be very hard for them to beat a quality team the rest of the way.
Edward Lee, reporter: The offense left a lot to be desired in Jim Caldwell's first game as the offensive coordinator. The first five possessions were three-and-outs for a unit that didn't get a first down until there was 8:04 left in the second quarter. Joe Flacco was wild with some of his throws, the offensive line couldn't keep the Broncos from hurrying Flacco, and the running game failed to find much traction. The offense didn't do much to help an injury-riddled defense, and there should be many sleepless nights for the coaches and players this week as they prepare for the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Matt Vensel, reporter/blogger: The Ravens were able to keep it close in the first half against a superior team, but Joe Flacco's ill-advised throw near the goal line was returned for a touchdown, and the rout was on. In the short term, the issues are mounting for the Ravens. They suffered more injuries to key players. They have lost three games in a row and still haven't backed into the playoffs. And it doesn't look like they have what it takes to beat a quality team down the stretch (we'll see which New York Giants team shows up next weekend). As for the bigger, long-term issue that is Flacco, it's too soon to draw conclusions. But his first game without Cam Cameron breathing down his neck was not pretty.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: The healthy half of the roster that took the field for the Ravens figured to be no match for Peyton Manning and the surging Denver Broncos, but it didn't have to be this ugly. Joe Flacco's horrible no-huddle decision at the end of the first half will be the play everybody remembers, but that was the tip of the iceberg. The Ravens looked confused and overmatched ... or was it overmatched and confused? Feel free to panic.
Kevin Cowherd, columnist: This was one horrendous performance by the Ravens. A total collapse. At least the defense had an excuse with all the injuries. But the offense under new coordinator Jim Caldwell was dreadful. Joe Flacco was pressured all day and the pick he threw in the final seconds of the first half, run back 98 yards by the Broncos' Chris Harris for a 17-0 Denver lead when the Ravens looked about to score, was the game-changer. With two tough games remaining, the Ravens look lost, especially their offense and quarterback.
Ron Fritz, head of sports: It would have been nice to see how the second half would have unfolded if Joe Flacco doesn't throw the pick-6 to make it 17-0 Broncos. We'll never know. What a disturbing effort in what was really a must-win game for the Ravens.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens are on the verge of having one of the greatest collapses in NFL history.
Aaron Wilson, reporter: It was a total embarrassment for a skidding Ravens squad on so many levels.
M&T Bank Stadium became a disaster area for the Ravens on Sunday during a rout of a loss to the AFC West-champion Denver Broncos.
The fresh start they were hoping for after firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replacing him with Jim Caldwell? Didn't happen.
This was a complete regression offensively. Obviously, the problems run much deeper than Cameron's unwillingess to accept input and suggestions from fellow coaches and his icy relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco.
It's hard to pin this one on Caldwell considering it was his first game calling plays in the NFL and the execution from the players was so bad, as they were overmatched against a talented Broncos defense.
Flacco had a brutal game, struggling with his accuracy and decisions and raising the question of how much the Ravens should spend on him for a new contract with his rookie deal about to expire at the end of this uneven season.
He hesitated and threw it right to Denver Broncos defensive back Chris Harris on a pass intended for Anquan Boldin that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown. It was an inexcusable miscue with the Ravens about to score and get back in the game.
The offensive line was simply bad with the expected struggles against Broncos blue-chip pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
Offensive guard Jah Reid got very little push inside.
On defense, free safety Ed Reed and cornerback Cary Williams got fooled by Eric Decker on a double-move for a long touchdown.
Reed's reaction to the touchdown told the story of the day for the Ravens, with the safety slamming his helmet to the ground on the sideline and kicking it, frustration bubbling over.
The Ravens were picked apart by Peyton Manning and it wasn't even one of his better games.
Nose guard Terrence Cody got bulldozed at the point of attack as Knowshon Moreno became the sixth running back to eclipse the century mark against Baltimore this season.
Replacement middle linebacker Josh Bynes was ineffective, getting plowed over by a blocker on a Moreno touchdown run. Brendon Ayanbadejo had his struggles, too, as the Ravens played without inside linebackers Ray Lewis (torn right triceps), Dannell Ellerbe (sprained right ankle, left foot, broken thumb, sprained thumb) and Jameel McClain (neck stinger).
The Ravens are now 9-5 with two games remaining in the regular season, a season gone awry with three consecutive losses.
It's the first time the Ravens have lost three games in a row since the 2009 season when they fell to the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings, finishing the season 9-7 overall.
Now, the Ravens have to regroup in a hurry as they'll host Manning's little brother, Eli Manning, and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants next Sunday followed by a regular-season finale on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Ravens have two games left to try to salvage their season and make the playoffs, but, based on this performance, their prospects are obviously looking quite bleak.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun